Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Written by: Dr. Charlotte Rodricks, @theoffbeatadventurer
Waking up early on a Sunday morning isn’t what most people in Mumbai, or the world for that matter, look forward to. Post a week of working at their 9 to 6 job, they would rather utilize their only holiday to relax and unwind. I however, had other plans for my Sunday morning and was planning to make the most of it. Recently I came across an article in the daily newspapers which carried a brief about how Marol, a small sleepy village in Andheri East was to be converted into an art village along the lines of the graffiti walls in the world. It was also slated to play host to the country’s first ever street art festival by women, for women.
Since travelling to Marol was out of the way owing to the immense traffic, it was not a locality I frequented. I, therefore enlisted the help of my friend, Sachin Pereira, and his scooter to show me around the vicinity. He met me at Marol junction at the gate of the metro station and from there we went to BharatVan, a little piece of green paradise in the heart of Marol which was also the starting point for the art village.
The outside cabin where the security guard held residence during the day had been painted with pigeons courtesy of the Pragnya trust. This also ensures, by default, visitors notice the artwork and stop to admire the same. Pigeons are a common sight in Mumbai and are perceived to be a common menace in some parts of the city. However there are also dedicated areas around various points in the cities where tourists can go and feed them.
As you enter the park, on your right side is a small room with small handprints all over the door. This room is used for teaching poor children from the local slum areas, thus ensuring they at least have access to basic education. Nikita (the_artpot) , the artist behind this piece chose to enlist their help while painting this piece. The door is covered in their hand prints, an ode to the legacy they will leave behind. The rest of the wall is covered with two different portrait pieces of two different girls while the wooden windows are covered in a tinted pink.
Going further up to the top of the park, an elaborate piece comes into view. This piece, done by Avantika Mathur (womenpow), spans the entire length of the wall. Reminiscent of the whimsical ‘Alice in wonderland’ theme, it is testament to the woman of today: strong, bold and confident. As you go towards the top of the park there are various other art forms each with its own story to tell.
On one of the walls above there is a multi coloured Mandala street art piece, done by Kesar Khinvasara (kesar_khinvasara). If you want to take pretty pictures against a popping background I would recommend this one. Mandala art is an ancient art which is more than 2000 years old. Traditionally it comprises of using geometric patterns to draw an entire design, however in recent times, non conventional shapes have also been utilised. There are two variations of this art form, one which consists of using monochromatic colours and the other which involves multi coloured hues.
Right at the top there is a white wall covered in different art forms, presumably a collaboration between various artists. The park also has an art installation made from painted plastic bottles. Following this we made our way past the Zostel in Marol to Adarsh Nagar. In a narrow slum area there are several paintings including two of Ganpati. Remember when going through this area to be respectful of the locals and their way of living even though you want to advise them about it. Many of them have lived here for several decades and having a tourist giving them unsolicited advice could irk them. Most of them are quite helpful and do however give you directions on where to find the smaller hidden pieces.
We then went to a long wall covered in Warli art done by Ratna Singh, Lynette and a few others. Warli art is a style of painting having its origins in the state of Maharashtra. Simple in concept and design it comprises of white minimalistic figures against a brown background. Although it mostly depicts themes associated with rural life, this particular piece depicted the women of Mumbai from different spheres of life. Right from the ladies special which plays daily to different roles, this particular art piece depicted it all.
We then left for the last piece of art which was painted on a huge white wall. On the way we came across a stunning piece of vibrancy which was still a work in progress done by the artist Lena McCarthy. Lena (Lenamccarthyart), an artist from Boston had spent the last three weeks in India prior to this painting various structures in vibrant hues. What made her piece stand out was the choice of colour palette and the symmetry of it.
Our trip concluded with a statesque bird on the walls of one of the buildings painted by Shirin (skshirin89) . This bird, 80 feet tall, was painted over a course of three days in total with the artist having to paint during the hottest hours of the day. In her own words she wanted to paint something happy and hence opted to paint a giant bird. These were some of the art pieces that stood out to me and is not the complete list of the same. As most of them are scattered around the area, a cycle or scooty would be advisable. Having a local from the area to assist you is always an added bonus as well.
Thanks for reading. Check out my instagram @theoffbeatadventurer for more images!